A third successive day passed with none of us spotting Magobo around the ghetto. We were getting worried.
His whereabouts were already the subject of the matter at that day’s rendezvous, the ghetto’s most popular barbershop.
“Ameneyutu asakhale atagwidwa kubwalo la Mfumu,” joked Namate, a barber always well informed, even of the nitty-gritties from children’s playgrounds.
You see, by nature of their trade, some small places such as Namate’s barbershop are where stories begin or grow. They are the hub of expression, the busiest newsrooms.
People from all professions and sizes of wallets liberally walk into such places and, for whatever reason, get so unrestricted to enjoy the unchained chatter that ensues.
Namate even often has big news way before the media breaks it.
Barbers can even make good spies.
So, we took Namate’s joke a bit seriously.
“Mwinatuwatoledwa.Pajatu sabata yonseyi wakhala akukamba zot iMfumu ikulepherakuyendetsa mudzi,” Atcheya, the ghetto’s revered tailor, said with a plummeting pitch.
“Dzana anali pano ndipo anamasuka. Amati iye yekha ndi okonzeka kufera chilungamo,” said Namate.
We pulled our aerials and attentively looked at the stammering barber.
“Panthawiyo ndi mameta mkulu wina yemwe amaoneka ngati akujambula zonena za Magobozo pa foni.”
We got more eager, and Namate continued.
‘Ataona kuti ndachita naye chidwi anayika foniy om’thumba,’ said Namate.
Our hearts sank.
We all went quiet.
‘Pano kodi olo mometetsera kapena mwa atelala tidziseleuranso?’ asked Atcheya.
“Zafika posauzana. Chonsechotuamayienaameneavomeramlanduofunakugulaalubinodzanalomweliangolipiritsidwachindapusa cha K7 000 basi,” wondered Namate.
Suddenly, from the hue of the nearby maize garden, appeared a lanky, half-drunk figure, singing as loudly as a siren:
It was Magobo!
He had lost some inches around his waist, a sure sign of hardships he had just gone through.
We had started to comfort him for his sad experience when he looked surprised.
“Inetu ndinali kumudzi kobzala mbatata. Zachimangazi tiiwale,” he said.
We were happy for Magobo.
But we still realised something is amiss.
If barbers can feel haunted, who shall ever feel free?
Perhaps barbers must also stock muzzles.